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2001 trx350fm reverse and neutral shift and light problems

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Hello Guys,
First post here... appreciate all the advise/posts you guys are all doing here.

Lots of amazing help going on. So hoping to tap into some of that.  🙂

I am the second owner of my '01 trx350fm bike since '03. Great machine, and as been super reliable, just doing regular fluid maintenance.

I use it around the farm for snow plowing and towing a grass/field mower & sprayer in the summer.


This plowing season, started noticed some weird shift & dashboard light behavour. Let me outline in point form:

  • Starts up normal in neutral; green light on - all good
  • Plowing and normal shifting up/down in 1st & 2nd gear - all good.  (neutral light is off).
  • At the end of the driveway, drop down in neutral, green light is on - all good. (it's really in neutral).
  • Drop into reverse - red reverse light on, neutral light off - all good.  (it's really in reverse).
  • After reversing, up-shift to neutral - red reverse light is still on, green light not on - not good, (and yes, it's really in neutral).
  • Up shift into 1st gear - red reverse light goes off, green neutral light goes on - not good.  (I mean, good as it's really in 1st gear, but bad since the neutral light is on).
  • Up shift into 2nd gear - neutral light goes off.


Sometimes, I have to play with it a bit to get the neutral light to turn on, when it's really in neutral.  (I mean, up shift a few gears, and then down shift into neutral).
And I have also noticed that sometimes it's difficult to upshift into 2nd if I've been running for a while in 1st. (Not, sure if this is related or not, but just in case).


It seems (or feels) like something inside the transmission is not rotating back properly after using reverse.
But at this point I'm not sure if this is really a mechanical problem, sensor, or something else.

Couple of other notes: the battery is good & fully charged up, and the gears all seem to work properly.


Anyone ideas what's happening here?



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with that year/model , my money says the end of the shift drum is about to , or has already snapped off ?. if this is the case ?, engine will need to be removed, split, shift drum replaced. easy way is your gear position switch is bad ?, or the connector at wire harness needs to be checked out.

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Thanks for the reply @shadetree
Not that familiar with working on this type of engine... Yikes.
Maybe you guys can walk me thru some of this to get ramped up.

I found the 2000-2003 service manual and on page 20.7 it outlines some continuity tests for the gear position switch. I assume that's what you're getting at?

Is there anything else to check on that, other than the 2 wires, before moving to the next step?

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Everything electrically sounds fine to me. It sounds like either the end of the shift drum have broken, or the rotary gear position switch is worn out, or the drive pin that is pressed into the gear position switch spindle have slid out of the spindle partially. So basically I'm guessing that it's a gear position switch drive problem that ya got.


The early 350 Ranchers had a small diameter (12mm I think?) slotted bearing support stub on the end of the shift drum that can/does break off. Honda did a recall on those early drums that broke and replaced them for free. But that recall have long ago expired.


What Honda did to solve the broken drum problem was remove the needle bearing (if I remember right the OD of that bearing is 15mm?) from the rear crankcase that supported the shift drum and discard it. Then replaced the broken drum with a stronger one they had begun to use in later year model 350s, that has a larger 15mm diameter support stub on the end of it. So the replacement drum (all '03 & up 350s come from the factory with the new drum) is supported by the rear crankcase, not a needle bearing like the early 350s.


So the next step for you is to remove the rear cover off the motor to learn whether the drum is broken, or the gear position switch is the problem. Here is a pic from the service manual that shows the slotted end of the shift drum that breaks off inboard of the needle bearing. If you find that your shift drum is supported by a needle bearing then it will need to be replaced with a drum from a newer 350. The cases gotta be split to remove the bearing & replace that drum.




And this is the gear position switch that is driven by the slot in the end of the drum.




Keep us posted on what you learn. We can help ya fix it.

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Thank you @retro for the info and advice. This is making much more sense now.
I'll have to get that rear crankcase cover off and see what's really going on in there.

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